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243 posts from November 2009

November 25, 2009

Rush Limbaugh likes Marco Rubio, calls Charlie Crist a RINO

The Rubio camp sent out this transcript of Rush Limbaugh on the Republican Senate race:

“I like Rubio. …

“In the Republican Party particularly, there is a fatigue with RINOs and moderate Republicans. …

“Republicans, the only chance they ever have of winning national elections is to go conservative.  And I think that's what's brewing out there, and the Republican Party is going to be looking at this Crist-Rubio primary because it's going to be a pretty stark contrast.

“I noticed that Crist is out there now, 'hey what do you mean, who says I'm not conservative, I'm pro-life, I'm pro gun, I don't know what more I have to be except angry.' That's not going to sit well.”

November 24, 2009

Miami's Kirk Wagar at White House State Dinner

Ah, the perks of raising money for candidates! Wagar, the Coconut Grove attorney and President Barack Obama's chief Florida fundraiser during the 2008 campaign, is among the bigwigs at tonight's State Dinner at the White House in honor of India, mingling with political dignitaries and the likes of actors Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard, directors Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.

Full guest list after the jump. 

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Rubio, Pruitt, Carlton could be called as witnesses in Ray Sansom case

Marco-RubioKen_Pruitt Lisa Carlton Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, ex-Senate President Ken Pruitt and Senate budget writer Lisa Carlton are potential witnesses in the House investigation of Rep. Ray Sansom, according to new documents that portend a high profile, politically-charged spectacle.

The names, and many more including top House staffers Mike Hansen and Bob Ward, land on a list presented to Sansom's attorney by House prosecutor Melanie Hines. Sansom lawyer Richard Coates offered his own preliminary witness list that includes developer Jay Odom and former Northwest Florida State College president Bob Richburg.

The inclusion of Rubio in particular will attract attention as he's running for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination against Gov. Charlie Crist*. Rubio was speaker during the two years that Sansom funneled millions to the college. The Miami Republican has said he delegated responsibility to his top budget chief, and there is no evidence Rubio knew a $6 million airport building could have benefited Odom's corporate jet business.

"The exchange of witness lists is a procedural operation to disclose people who may have information and may be called," said Rep. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican heading the five-member House tribunal. "It does not mean that the names on the list are being called before the committee."

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Crist tosses Rothstein off Judicial Nominating Commission

Gov. Charlie Crist's office repeatedly said they wouldn't remove disgraced lawyer Scott Rothstein off the Fourth District Court of Appeal Judicial Nominating Commission until he resigned or was charged.

But today, Crist gave him the boot citing his right to suspend anyone for malfeasance. Rothstein has agreed to surrender his law license.

Crist named attorney William Berger -- not the same Berger who worked in Rothstein's firm -- as a replacement.

Crist and Rothstein were once buddies -- several photos of the governor adorned Rothstein's offices at his Las Olas law firm. Rothstein gave generously to Crist and the Republican Party.

Crist appointed Rothstein to the JNC on Aug. 25, 2008. Four days later he gave $140,000 to the Republican Party.

Crist, weeks later, tosses Rothstein from judicial commish

Well, it took awhile, but Gov. Charlie Crist finally suspended accused Ponzi schemer and major political donor Scott Rothstein from the Fourth DCA Judicial Nominating Commission.

Crist just release the executive order, which comes about three weeks after the initial reports of Rothstein's alleged misdeeds. He also has appointed William Berger to replace Rothstein on the nominating commission.

We're not sure why this took so long. Even the Florida Bar moved faster, filing the paperwork to permanently disbar Rothstein last week.

Crist's order is here: Download Rothstein_Suspension

George LeMieux for U.S. Senate?

During his first visit to South Florida since his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Republican George LeMieux received gushing praise from the hometown congressmen, U.S. Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

They were so complimentary you'd think LeMieux planned to be on the ballot in 2010 instead of his former boss, Gov. Charlie Crist. Then again, the Diaz-Balarts are big Crist supporters, and if LeMieux looks good then Crist does too.

"For those who thought George LeMieux was going to be someone who passed by in the Senate and perhaps not be noticed by many people, the exact opposite is the truth,'' Lincoln said after they all toured  Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. "He's an extraordinary public servant and he's doing a very impressive, admirable job as a U.S. senator.''

Mario added: "Rarely in my years have I come across an individual who has made such a difference, who has shown such passion, such great talent...We are frankly -- Lincoln and I have talked about this  -- so impressed."

FDLE investigation into PSC was prompted by Skop

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released its final report today in its investigation into the Public Service Commission and concluded, as expected, no criminal wrongdoing. Download PSC Report

What is newsworthy is that PSC Commissioner Nathan Skop was the one who first brought the issue to state investigators on Aug. 4, before the Herald/Times first broke the story about commissioners using Blackberry PINs to communicate with the utilities they regulate. The investigation also began before former PSC lobbyist Ryder Rudd admitted to the newspaper that he attended a Kentucky Derby party at the home of Florida Power & Light vice president Ed Tancer.

Skop "expressed concerns,'' the report said, and provided email in which aides "were exchanging their Blackberry" PINs and the PINs of PSC commissioners with Florida Power & Light officials. "The complainant advise ths this caused two concerns. First, it was against PSC policy for commissioners to speak directly to utility representatives about any pending agenda issues. The exchange of PINs created the appearance of improprierty between the PSC and the utility company. Second if communication...was occurring, there may be possible violation of both Public Records and Sunshine Laws.''

The three-page FDLE report found that William Garner, (which it spells Gardner), the aide to commissioner Chairman Matt Carter, said "he frequently used PIN messaging to communicate with representatives of the regulated industries, but at not time did he ever discuss the merits of the cases that were to be brought before the PSC."

Roberta Bass, the aide to Commissioner Lisa Edgar, told investigators that she also "has used PIN messaging to communicate with representatives of the regulated industries." Investigators also interviewed Commissioner Nancy Argenziano, who said  and Whitney Ray, a reporter who complained to the governor's office that he had been shoved by PSC spokeswoman Cindy Muir.

Investigators said they worked with Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs to review "possible criminal violations." The investigation involved retreiving the Blackberry PIN messages taken from the backup files and interviewing commissioners and their staff. Investigators appeared to rely on statements from commissioners and their staff who each apparentlly stated that they had "no knowlege of any violations of ex-parte communications of Sunshine Law'' by their colleagues.

Consumer advocate: strip PSC staffers of their power

The state consumer advocate today proposed that the Public Service Commission take a radical step and remove the ability of staff to formally recommend how the regulatory panel should  rule in pending cases, such as the massive rate cases now before it by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy.

The recommendation by Public Counsel JR Kelly came Tuesday in a day-long staff workshop on how to improve the integrity of the process given recent developments that show that PSC staff are too cozy with the utilities they regulate. Right now, PSC staff prepare a detailed recommendation on pending utility issues that lays out how the commission could rule. Since the PSC frequently adopts the staff recommendation with little modification, utilities attempt to influence staff and routinely work to develop relationships with them.

"The commissioners are vested with the power, more importantly, the responsibility, to make the final decision,'' Kelly said. "The more we make the process transparent to the public, the more [the public] will understand, the less confusion there will be and the more they will appreciate the job of the public service commissioners have to do."

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Nelson targeted for health care vote

The 60 Plus Association -- which bills itself as the "conservative alternative" to the AARP -- today announced a new ad campaign targeting senators like Bill Nelson who voted Saturday to keep debating the Senate health care bill.

The $2 million ad buy which begins tomorrow, target centrist Democratic senators in 7 other states – Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

"This should be a week for giving thanks, but Senator Nelson will be getting ‘No Thanks’ from seniors," said 60 plus prez Jim Martin. "By voting to move forward with this bill, Senator Nelson is endorsing cutting Medicare by half a trillion dollars and jeopardizing health care service for seniors."

Nelson -- and every other Democrat in the Senate -- voted Saturday to keep discussing the health care bill, saying it was "a debate that we cannot afford not to have."

The ad asks seniors to call Nelson and urge him to oppose the Senate bil. It ends with a senior ominously warning, "Seniors will NOT forget."

November 23, 2009

Meet the new face of Charlie Crist in South Florida

Her name is Anna Alexopoulos, and today was her first day as field director for Charlie Crist's Senate campaign in Broward and Palm Beach counties. She hit the ground running by making sure Crist had a good turnout (about 300 people) at tonight's Broward Republican Party meeting.

Alexopoulos is 24 years old, lives in Plantation and has served as president of the Broward Young Republicans for nearly two years. Until this week, she was the senior executive assistant/office manager for Attorney General Bill McCollum's office in South Florida. She also worked as Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti's campaign coordinator in 2008.

"I' think Gov. Crist is the true conservative and the right man for the job,'' she said. "We've heard a lot of rhetoric lately. Speaker Rubio is a fine man and a fine candidate but when you look at the record, the record will show Gov. Crist has done more to uphold conservative messages and conservative values.''